What does it take to be a court reporter?

Court reporting is sometimes called the best profession that no one knows about and we tend to agree. That's why we're sharing our experience. When asked what it takes to be a court reporter, the answer is dedication but that’s not all. There’s a fair amount of other skills like focus, attention to detail, work ethic, and punctuality that make you a great reporter. And the industry as a whole is challenged in a number of ways.

Why aren’t there enough court reporters?

The challenge we have in the industry is two-fold. Reporters are 10 years older than the average American worker - 53 years old versus 43 years old - so they’re retiring sooner than in many other professions. Second is that there are less court reporting schools because of a decline of student interest in the field. That has led to a potential court reporter shortage that could slow or, in some places, halt the court system.

What’s the state of court reporting schools?

In Oklahoma, we’re set to have a shortage of at least 80 court reporters by 2018 but that number could increase if we don’t attract new reporters. Perhaps the biggest challenge in Oklahoma is that, according to the National Court Reporters Association, we don’t have a court reporting school in the entire state. The closest schools are in Texas. Often when students go to school out of state, they get jobs in those states so we’ve got to attract them back to Oklahoma.

What does it take to be a court reporter?

Choosing court reporting as a career should not be taken lightly. Most students who enter school will drop out because they can’t meet the standards for speed and accuracy that are required. For those that do succeed, there are a wide range of opportunities in the legal field and business world but what does it take to graduate from a court reporting program?

In addition to speed and accuracy, to be a sought after reporter you need these:

  • Personable and able to work with clients of varying personalities. No two days are the same so you’ve got to be adaptable.
  • Ability to work on serious cases, some involving gruesome details or confidential client information.
  • Attorneys and judges don’t want to wait for you to show up to start their day. They’re likely handling a number of cases per day and need you to be on time if not early.
  • Attention to detail and focus. As a court reporter, you will spend enormous amounts of time listening and documenting proceedings whether in a courtroom or deposition setting. There’s no daydreaming or drifting when there’s a witness giving testimony.
  • Above average vocabulary and interest in continuing education. You will be exposed to medical, forensic, and technical terms for a variety of cases. It’s essential that you be willing to continuously learn whether it’s new vocabulary, court reporting trends, or legal terms.

If you think you’ve got these qualities of a court reporter, we’d love to talk to you! We’re always looking for qualified candidates to add to our team. The more we can do as an industry, the more we can do in our communities to avoid a court reporter shortage.

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